Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991. He was the first African American to hold that position, and was one of the most influential legal actors of his time. Before being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon Johnson, Marshall was a lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Federal Judge (1961-1965), and Solicitor General of the United States (1965-1966). Marshall won twenty-nine of thirty-two cases before the Supreme Court – most notably the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, which held segregated public schools unconstitutional. Marshall spent his career fighting racial segregation and legal inequality, and his time on the court establishing a record for supporting the "voiceless American." He left a legacy of change that still affects American society today.
Through this concise biography, accompanied by primary sources that present Marshall in his own words, students will learn what Marshall did (and did not do) during his life, why those actions were important, and what effects his efforts had on the larger course of American history.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments. Introduction: The Struggle for a More Perfect Union. 1. The Education of Thurgood Marshall 2. "Thurgood's Coming" 3. Social Engineer Lawyer 4. Going for the "Whole Hog" 5. All Deliberate Speed Means S-L-O-W 6. "I AM the Establishment" 7. Not Only the Robe Was Black 8. How Do You Feel About Writing Dissents? Postscript: Thurgood Marshall, Activist Judge. Documents. Note on Sources.
Charles L. Zelden is Professor of History at Nova Southeastern University. He is the author of many books, including Bush v. Gore: Exposing the Hidden Crisis in American Democracy and The Supreme Court and Elections…Into the Political Thicket.
"A lively and accessible account of one of the most important figures in American legal history. Zelden shows Thurgood Marshall’s passion for equality under the law as he faced danger representing African Americans in segregated towns, successfully challenged segregation in Brown, and sought to defend equality as a Supreme Court Justice."
– Mary L. Dudziak, author of Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey
"Providing a valuable overview of Thurgood Marshall’s importance in twentieth-century American history, Charles Zelden tells the story of Marshall’s life and career with clear presentations of the legal and technical materials from which Marshall forged modern civil rights law."
– Mark Tushnet, co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law
"What this book does, and does remarkably well…is….synthesize a great deal of information—this is a book that covers both the man and the many legal battles with which he was involved—into a portrait that is sharply written, effectively organized, and impressively concise. This is no small feat. Zelden has given us an accessible and engaging introduction to Marshall and the central role he played in the legal history of the twentieth century."
-Christopher W. Schmidt, Chicago-Kent College of Law